A mother’s passionate love for football, Black Stars

In order not to keep her heart from skipping a beat, because of the stress in watching football, my octogenarian mother at a point stopped watching the Black Stars game against South Korea World Cup match on television. 

She deliberately stayed away and expected us to tell her what happened especially if a goal was scored. 

She is one of those that have constantly reminded us that there is no other sport that saps your emotion like football.

Ask anyone to mention the most emotional sport and football would likely be the first to be mentioned. 

While it brings people from all walks of life together, it is arguably one that could cause many of its fans to have high blood pressure.

The Ghana – South Korea match played on Monday at the Education City in Qatar readily comes to mind as one of such nerve-wracking games.

The 10 minutes of time added-on got a significant number of Ghanaians and Africans at large sitting on tenterhooks. And, it went down as the longest 10 minutes in the lives of many, especially those that followed the fortunes of the Stars at the FIFA football showpiece.

Watching a video circulating on social media of former Black Stars Captain, Asamoah Gyan pacing up and down during the moment; hoping and praying that the referee, John Taylor, blows his final whistle was a clear example of such moments.

The situation reminded me of how some would-be-fathers nervously moved around delivery wards at hospitals in anticipation of good news or otherwise from the nine months journey of their pregnant wives.

It is this kind of nervousness that people like my octogenarian mother always tried to avoid and rather opt to watch ‘dead’ matches.

She would say, “Watch and inform me when there is a goal from any of the sides”. 

She always said that at this point in her life, her heart was not strong enough to withstand the emotions that comes with watching a live match especially when it involved a Ghanaian team.

I find it interesting that this was the same woman who I learnt in her early twenties, together with one of my grand uncles called Grandpa Forson frequently went to watch matches involving local or foreign teams at the Accra Sports Stadium. 

But time, indeed, changes a lot of things including the interest of football fans and her case is no exception.

Age has gradually eaten away her ‘stamina’ and made her faint-hearted, hence her inability to watch live matches even on a television set.

I miss the days when she called God to prevent our rivals from scoring; when she would throw her legs and hands as if she was on the field with them and even be issuing instructions as if they could hear her.

My mother could tell us several stories about the footballers of yester-years who played their hearts out at both home and away matches with little or no focus on financial incentives. 

Some of the names that usually came to mind in our conversations are Baba Yara, Aggrey-Fynn, Osei Kofi and Wilberforce Mfum whom according to her had exceptional talents.

Sometimes, she would say the players of today were not as impressive or committed as those that represented the country in the 1960s and thereabout which had even affected the quality of the game.

She could praise the players of the Osagyefo’s Own Club (OCC) over and over again and I sometimes thought she was exaggerating.

However,  one day, I chanced upon an account by the famous commentator, Joe Lartey, before I believed her stories.

In one of the Black Stars matches in the 90s (which if I remember correctly was an African Cup of Nations tie), and an era when our players were not doing well, she would quickly compare them to Mfum and his energy on the field.

Unknowingly, my late father also had enough of the mentioning of Mfum but could not figure out on how to stop her. I think he got jealous of her constant praises of the former footballer.

“If Mfum had this ball he wouldn’t have wasted this chance. Mfum could have easily dribbled this goalkeeper to score. It would take the nation a while to have another Mfum. Mfum was this, Mfum was that, it was always Mfum and he practically lived in our home.

That went on and on and on and it was so deafening that on one occasion my late father had to increase the volume of our black and white television set to save our ears from being taken over by a certain Mfum.

She was also a fan of Abedi Pele and would always cheer him on. 

I think she has passed on the love for him to his two sons who are currently playing for the Black Stars inthe Qatar tournament with her favourite being the Captain, Andre DedeAyew.

My mother would ask during half time whether Andre played and if the answer was in the affirmative, thenwhether he scored. 

Her face always lighted up when I told her he scored.

She religiously listens to post match discussions and would ask, “I learnt the referee was not fair to us, I learnt it was a difficult match, I learnt our boys played their hearts out, I learnt this, I learnt that.

She also likes to watch playback matches, whether it involves the Black Stars or not.

With her vigorous support for the Black Stars, it is my prayer that the team grind a win over Uruguay to progress to the next stage.

She would then say that although she did not watch the live matches, her spirit was always with them.

It is my prayer that for the sake of fans like my mother and several others who are so emotional about the outcome of these matches, theStars would go all out to make the nation proud and also put smiles on such faces.

Go Black Stars, Go. Go and score Uruguay and advance to the next level and like the lyrics of my basic school cheering song “we shall score them, we shall put pepper in their eyes,” the Stars should give their all to put pepper literally in the eyes of the Uruguayans to give us a sweet revenge.

[The writer is our correspondent in Tema]


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